Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sotomayor and the Supreme Court Paradigm

Seating Judge Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court could well be required for a feat not anticipated in our lifetimes, although certainly provided by the framers of our constitution, — seating non-lawyers on that court.

Sotomayor may weigh her life experiences, as she has stated, to reach judicial opinions some interpret at conflict with the Constitution and case law to date. This would not be the first time, nor would it always lead to favorable outcomes for Sotomayor’s opinions. Dissenting or not, she would be subject to the razor-sharp pressure from her peers.

The longstanding monopoly of an entire branch of the federal government by lawyers, the majority of the U.S. Senate, including its Judiciary Committee, and over 30% of the U.S. House of Representatives by members of a single profession is outrageous on its face. Although such concentrations of authority breed conflicts of interest, most voters cannot see the results.

A scandal with tentacles and ensuing investigation will someday confirm the unconscionable conflicts of interest enabled by lawyers, particularly with unelected enablers like well-heeled lobbyists or worse, lawyer-filled not-for-profits like the A.C.L.U. , A.C.O.R.N.

Like it or not, seating Sotomayor may finally provide that reliance on case precedent and the written letter of the law (i.e. the claimed necessity for jurists' formal legal education) is not so necessary. Voila! We want to see some commoners on our Supreme Court.